Girls forced out of shopping centre to be raped in Sunderland park, court hears

The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park, which was sealed off as a crime scene.
The area near the ornamental bridge in Mowbray Park, which was sealed off as a crime scene.
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An armed rapist forced two teenage girls out of a shopping centre and into a nearby park where he subjected them both to sex attacks, a court heard.

Syed Ali, 46, told his two victims he was carrying a a knife and warned they would be “hurt” if they did not leave the Bridges Shopping centre in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, and follow him to Mowbray Park, it is claimed.

They say they were told by him to come with him or they would be hurt.

Prosecutor Gavin Doig

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 46-year-old take-away worker then raped one girl and sexually assaulted the other in bushes at the city recreation areaon December 8.

Ali, formerly of Sunderland, claims he had consensual sex with the teenager who has accused him of rape.

He claims there was nothing more than a “hug and kiss” with the other girl.

Ali denies rape and sexual assault and is being tried by a jury.

The court heard Ali, who initially lied to police about meeting a friend at the shopping centre then refused to give an explanation why he was there, was caught on cctv “either following or simply walking behind” two schoolgirls in uniform before he crossed paths with his alleged victims, who were on a shopping trip together.

Prosecutors say he could have been luring around the shopping complex looking for “likely targets”.

Footage from the corridor near the toilets in the centre show Ali and his victims, who are “oblivious” to him, walking past each other in opposite directions.

After spotting the two girls, Ali is shown to then turn around and walk in the same direction as them.

Prosecutor Gavin Doig told the court: “According to the complainants, he tellsthem he has a knife.

“They say he asks if they like sex. They say they told him ‘no’.

“They say they were told by him to come with him or they would be hurt.

“According to the girls, that’s why they followed him.”

Street cameras captured footage of the girls and Ali walking towards Mowbray park.

Mr Doig added: “You know what the complainants say happened there.”

The court heard police were called to the scene after the attacks by one of the girls, who rang 999.

Mr Doig said: “She reported that her friend had been raped by a man who had followed them in the shopping centre.

“She also reported during that call that she had been sexually assaulted.

“Police arrived at the park promptly to find the girls still there, still showing they were in a state of distress.”

The court heard Ali’s picture was retrieved from the cctv footage at the shopping centre and it was circulated in a bid to track him down.

He handed himself in to the police station on Decemer 12, insisting he had done nothing wrong and that the sex with one girl, who said she was 18, was consensual.

Mr Doig added: “The prosecution say they phoned 999 because what had taken place in Mowbray Park was not consensual, it was rape.”